By Ruel Saldico
Buhi, Camarines Sur — A state of calamity was declared in this municipality because of the occurrence of a fish kill over the past few weeks, delivering a big blow to almost a thousand fish cage owners and operators. The initial estimate of damage is at least half a million pesos.
Mayor Margie Aguinillo said that while it is the tilapia species devastated by the occurrence, what is disturbing is that even the smallest fish species endemic to the lake, the Philippine goby (pandaka pygmaea) or “sinarapan,” have also been wiped out.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), however, said the fish species still exists, but only in lakelets around Lake Buhi and not in its massive expanse which is prone to bacteria, especially during the rainy season.
Fish kills have been a common occurrence in the lake in the months of September-November, said Aguinillo, and this is due to several factors such as the sudden change of temperature in the lake and an increase in bacteria.
Last Thursday, she met with civilian volunteers, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the BFAR; and concluded that water contamination in Lake Buhi could also be traced to the chemicals introduced in the lake in the form of feeds given to tilapia in fish cages.
One of the immediate solutions agreed upon was to establish a detachment of the Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit here that will ensure no more additional fish pens will be built in the lake to avoid overcrowding and that existing fish cage operators will refrain from using chemicals to feed their tilapia.